Relationships between environmental structure characteristics and within-industry variation of selected strategy indicators
A debate in the literature involves the relative usefulness of environmental determinist perspectives compared to strategic choice perspectives (Aldrich, 1979; Astley & Fombrun, 1983; Bourgeois, 1984; Perrow, 1979; Romanelli & Tushman, 1986). Aldrich (1979) suggests that this debate can be resolved only through the accumulation of empirical research. Others (Bourgeois, 1984; Hambrick & Finkelstein, in press; Porter, 1980) have suggested that this debate may be irrelevant because the suitability of either view is a matter of degree rather than an "either-or" question.
Both determinists and choice theorists claim that their respective models can account for more variation across organizations than competing models (Romanelli & Tushman, 1986). Environmental determinists suggest that most variation can be explained by environmental forces so that there is relatively little variation among firms sharing common environments. Choice theorists agree that environmental constraining forces affect organizational actions, but they claim that these effects are insignificant when compared to those resulting from managerial decisions. By emphasizing the importance of managerial decisions, the strategic choice perspective suggests that there can be substantial variation among firms sharing common environments.